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Learning Olympic Lifts: Modifications and general awkwardness

Dec 30, 2010

Learning is a little messy

For the past six weeks or so, I've been focused on general strength and increasing my work capacity.  That was pretty straight forward.  My next phase is a learning phase in which I want to learn about Olympic-style lifting and jump rope training.  I am sensing this phase will not be as easy.  I guess if it were too easy, I wouldn't be learning anything.

Last week I got a crash course in the basics of the Olympic lifts. My goal now is to practice the movements and to figure out what I can do with the resources I have available.

My gym is not the kind of place one can really do the regular Olympic lifts.  There are no lifting platforms.  In fact, there aren't even regular squat racks, just Smith machines.

Monday I experimented with dumbbell snatches and jerks with an EZ Curl bar.

I was surprised by how awkward I felt. There is no way to hide in a corner or be discrete when you are performing explosive lifts.  Random thoughts interfered with my focus.  “Are those dudes looking at me because they think I'm hot, or because I look as uncoordinated as I feel?”

It's been a long time since I felt awkward in the weight room.  My gym is one of those places where the men work their bench press and the women workout on the ellipticals.  The MMA guys and myself who do more functional exercises are in the minority.   As the only woman who regularly ventures into the part of the weight room with the heavy dumbbells, I have learned to keep awkwardness at bay with a no-nonsense look in my eye and with confidence that I know what I'm doing.

While attempting these new lifts though, the level of discomfort is noticeable.  I have a renewed empathy for players (women especially) who are beginning their weight training for the first time this winter.  Fortunately, I know from experience that if I push through the awkwardness I will come out on the other side with renewed swagger. I wish the same for all of you who are embarking on the journey to ultimate fitness.

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